How many years, how many generations, Have heard that sigh in the dawn, When the dark earth yearns to the unforgotten nations And the old loves withdrawn, Old loves, old lovers, wonderful and unnumbered As waves on the wine-dark sea, 'Neath the tall white towers of Troy and the temples that slumbered In Thessaly?
From the beautiful palaces, from the miraculous portals, The swift white feet are flown! They were taintless of dust, the proud, the peerless Immortals As they sped to their loftier throne! Perchance they are there, earth dreams, on the shores of Hesper, Her rosy-bosomed Hours, Listening the wild fresh forest's enchanted whisper, Crowned with its new strange flowers; Listening the great new ocean's triumphant thunder On the stainless unknown shore, While that perilous queen of the world's delight and wonder Comes white from the foam once more.
When the mists divide with the dawn o'er those glittering waters, Do they gaze over unoared seas— Naiad and nymph and the woodland's rose-crowned daughters And the Oceanides? Do they sing together, perchance, in that diamond splendour, That world of dawn and dew, With eyelids twitching to tears and with eyes grown tender The sweet old songs they knew, The songs of Greece? Ah, with harp-strings mute do they falter As the earth like a small star pales? When the heroes launch their ship by the smoking altar Does a memory lure their sails? Far, far away, do their hearts resume the story That never on earth was told, When all those urgent oars on the waste of glory Cast up its gold?
Are not the forest fringes wet With tears? Is not the voice of all regret Breaking out of the dark earth's heart? She too, she too, has loved and lost; and though She turned last night in disdain Away from the sunset-embers, From her soul she can never depart; She can never depart from her pain. Vainly she strives to forget; Beautiful in her woe, She awakes in the dawn and remembers.
THE SWIMMER'S RACE
Between the clover and the trembling sea They stand upon the golden-shadowed shore In naked boyish beauty, a strenuous three, Hearing the breakers' deep Olympic roar; Three young athletes poised on a forward limb, Mirrored like marble in the smooth wet sand, Three statues moulded by Praxiteles: The blue horizon rim Recedes, recedes upon a lovelier land, And England melts into the skies of Greece.
The dome of heaven is like one drop of dew, Quivering and clear and cloudless but for one Crisp bouldered Alpine range that blinds the blue With snowy gorges glittering to the sun: Forward the runners lean, with outstretched hand Waiting the word—ah, how the light relieves The silken rippling muscles as they start Spurning the yellow sand, Then skimming lightlier till the goal receives The winner, head thrown back and lips apart.
Now at the sea-marge on the sand they lie At rest for a moment, panting as they breathe, And gazing upward at the unbounded sky While the sand nestles round them from beneath; And in their hands they gather up the gold And through their fingers let it lazily stream Over them, dusking all their limbs' fair white, Blotting their shape and mould, Till, mixed into the distant gazer's dream Of earth and heaven, they seem to sink from sight.
But one, in seeming petulance, oppressed With heat has cast his brown young body free: With arms behind his head and heaving breast He lies and gazes at the cool bright sea; So young Leander might when in the noon He panted for the starry eyes of eve And whispered o'er the waste of wandering waves, "Hero, bid night come soon!" Nor knew the nymphs were waiting to receive And kiss his pale limbs in their cold sea-caves.
Now to their feet they leap and, with a shout, Plunge through the glittering breakers without fear, Breast the green-arching billows, and still out, As if each dreamed the arms of Hero near; Now like three sunbeams on an emerald crest, Now like three foam-flakes melting out of sight, They are blent with all the glory of all the sea; One with the golden West; Merged in a myriad waves of mystic light As life is lost in immortality.
THE VENUS OF MILO
Backward she leans, as when the rose unblown Slides white from its warm sheath some morn in May! Under the sloping waist, aslant, her zone Clings as it slips in tender disarray; One knee, out-thrust a little, keeps it so Lingering ere it fall; her lovely face Gazes as o'er her own Eternity! Those armless radiant shoulders, long ago Perchance held arms out wide with yearning grace For Adon by the blue Sicilian sea.
No; thou eternal fount of these poor gleams, Bright axle-star of the wheeling temporal skies, Daughter of blood and foam and deathless dreams, Mother of flying Love that never dies, To thee, the topmost and consummate flower, The last harmonic height, our dull desires And our tired souls in dreary discord climb; The flesh forgets its pale and wandering fires; We gaze through heaven as from an ivory tower Shining upon the last dark shores of Time.
White culmination of the dreams of earth, Thy splendour beacons to a loftier goal, Where, slipping earthward from the great new birth, The shadowy senses leave the essential soul! Oh, naked loveliness, not yet revealed, A moment hence that falling robe will show No prophecy like this, this great new dawn, The bare bright breasts, each like a soft white shield, And the firm body like a slope of snow Out of the slipping dream-stuff half withdrawn.
THE NET OF VULCAN
From peaks that clove the heavens asunder The hunchback god with sooty claws Loomed o'er the night, a cloud of thunder, And hurled the net of mortal laws; It flew, and all the world grew dimmer; Its blackness blotted out the stars, Then fell across the rosy glimmer That told where Venus couched with Mars.
And, when the steeds that draw the morning Spurned from their Orient hooves the spray, All vainly soared the lavrock, warning Those tangled lovers of the day: Still with those twin white waves in blossom, Against the warrior's rock-broad breast, The netted light of the foam-born bosom Breathed like a sea at rest.
And light was all that followed after, Light the derision of the sky, Light the divine Olympian laughter Of kindlier gods in days gone by: Low to her lover whispered Venus, "The shameless net be praised for this— When night herself no more could screen us It snared us one more hour of bliss."
How like the sky she bends above her child, One with the great horizon of her pain! No sob from our low seas where woe runs wild, No weeping cloud, no momentary rain, Can mar the heaven-high visage of her grief, That frozen anguish, proud, majestic, dumb. She stoops in pity above the labouring earth, Knowing how fond, how brief Is all its hope, past, present, and to come, She stoops in pity, and yearns to assuage its dearth.
Through that fair face the whole dark universe Speaks, as a thorn-tree speaks thro' one white flower; And all those wrenched Promethean souls that curse The gods, but cannot die before their hour, Find utterance in her beauty. That fair head Bows over all earth's graves. It was her cry Men heard in Rama when the twisted ways With children's blood ran red! Her silence utters all the sea would sigh; And, in her face, the whole earth's anguish prays.
It is the pity, the pity of human love That strains her face, upturned to meet the doom, And her deep bosom, like a snow-white dove Frozen upon its nest, ne'er to resume Its happy breathing o'er the golden brace Whose fostering was her death. Death, death alone Can break the anguished horror of that spell! The sorrow on her face Is sealed: the living flesh is turned to stone; She knows all, all, that Life and Time can tell.
Ah, yet, her woman's love, so vast, so tender; Her woman's body, hurt by every dart; Braving the thunder, still, still hide the slender Soft frightened child beneath her mighty heart. She is all one mute immortal cry, one brief Infinite pang of such victorious pain That she transcends the heavens and bows them down! The majesty of grief Is hers, and her dominion must remain Eternal. God nor man usurps that crown.
ORPHEUS AND EURYDICE
Height over height, the purple pine-woods clung to the rich Arcadian mountains, Holy-sweet as a sea of incense, under the low dark crimson skies: Glad were the glens where Eurydice bathed, in the beauty of dawn, at the haunted fountains Deep in the blue hyacinthine hollows, whence all the rivers of Arcady rise.
Long ago, ah, white as the Huntress, cold and sweet as the petals that crowned her, Fair and fleet as the fawn that shakes the dew from the fern at break of day, Wreathed with the clouds of her dusky hair that swept in a sun-bright glory around her, Down to the valley her light feet stole, ah, soft as the budding of flowers in May.
Down to the valley she came, for far and far below in the dreaming meadows Pleaded ever the Voice of voices, calling his love by her golden name; So she arose from her home in the hills, and down through the blossoms that danced with their shadows, Out of the blue of the dreaming distance, down to the heart of her lover she came.
* * * *
Red were the lips that hovered above her lips in the flowery haze of the June-day: Red as a rose through the perfumed mist of passion that reeled before her eyes; Strong the smooth young sunburnt arms that folded her heart to his heart in the noon-day, Strong and supple with throbbing sunshine under the blinding southern skies.
Ah, the kisses, the little murmurs, mad with pain for their phantom fleetness, Mad with pain for the passing of love that lives, they dreamed—as we dream—for an hour! Ah, the sudden tempest of passion, mad with pain, for its over-sweetness, As petal by petal and pang by pang their love broke out into perfect flower.
Ah, the wonder as once he wakened, out of a dream of remembered blisses, Couched in the meadows of dreaming blossom to feel, like the touch of a flower on his eyes, Cool and fresh with the fragment dews of dawn the touch of her light swift kisses, Shed from the shadowy rose of her face between his face and the warm blue skies.
Lost in his new desire He dreamed away the hours; His lyre Lay buried in the flowers:
To whom the King of Heaven, Apollo, lord of light, Had given Beauty and love and might:
Might, if he would, to slay All evil dreams and pierce The grey Veil of the Universe;
With Love that holds in one Sacred and ancient bond The sun And all the vast beyond,
And Beauty to enthrall The soul of man to heaven: Yea, all These gifts to him were given.
Yet in his dream's desire He drowsed away the hours: His lyre Lay buried in the flowers.
Then in his wrath arose Apollo, lord of light, That shows The wrong deed from the right;
And by what radiant laws O'erruling human needs, The cause To consequence proceeds;
How balanced is the sway He gives each mortal doom: How day Demands the atoning gloom:
How all good things await The soul that pays the price To Fate By equal sacrifice;
And how on him that sleeps For less than labour's sake There creeps Uncharmed, the Pythian snake.
Lulled by the wash of the feathery grasses, a sea with many a sun-swept billow, Heart to heart in the heart of the summer, lover by lover asleep they lay, Hearing only the whirring cicala that chirruped awhile at their poppied pillow Faint and sweet as the murmur of men that laboured in villages far away.
Was not the menace indeed more silent? Ah, what care for labour and sorrow? Gods in the meadows of moly and amaranth surely might envy their deep sweet bed Here where the butterflies troubled the lilies of peace, and took no thought for the morrow, And golden-girdled bees made feast as over the lotus the soft sun spread.
Nearer, nearer the menace glided, out of the gorgeous gloom around them, Out of the poppy-haunted shadows deep in the heart of the purple brake; Till through the hush and the heat as they lay, and their own sweet listless dreams enwound them,— Mailed and mottled with hues of the grape-bloom suddenly, quietly, glided the snake.
Subtle as jealousy, supple as falsehood, diamond-headed and cruel as pleasure, Coil by coil he lengthened and glided, straight to the fragrant curve of her throat: There in the print of the last of the kisses that still glowed red from the sweet long pressure, Fierce as famine and swift as lightning over the glittering lyre he smote.
And over the cold white body of love and delight Orpheus arose in the terrible storm of his grief, With quivering up-clutched hands, deadly and white, And his whole soul wavered and shook like a wind-swept leaf:
As a leaf that beats on a mountain, his spirit in vain Assaulted his doom and beat on the Gates of Death: Then prone with his arms o'er the lyre he sobbed out his pain, And the tense chords faintly gave voice to the pulse of his breath.
And he heard it and rose, once again, with the lyre in his hand, And smote out the cry that his white-lipped sorrow denied: And the grief's mad ecstasy swept o'er the summer-sweet land, And gathered the tears of all Time in the rush of its tide.
There was never a love forsaken or faith forsworn, There was never a cry for the living or moan for the slain, But was voiced in that great consummation of song; ay, and borne To storm on the Gates of the land whence none cometh again.
Transcending the barriers of earth, comprehending them all He followed the soul of his loss with the night in his eyes; And the portals lay bare to him there; and he heard the faint call Of his love o'er the rabble that wails by the river of sighs.
Yea, there in the mountains before him, he knew it of old, That portal enormous of gloom, he had seen it in dreams, When the secrets of Time and of Fate through his harmonies rolled; And behind it he heard the dead moan by their desolate streams.
And he passed through the Gates with the light and the cloud of his song, Dry-shod over Lethe he passed to the chasms of hell; And the hosts of the dead made mock at him, crying, How long Have we dwelt in the darkness, oh fool, and shall evermore dwell?
Did our lovers not love us? the grey skulls hissed in his face; Were our lips not red? Were these cavernous eyes not bright? Yet us, whom the soft flesh clothed with such roseate grace, Our lovers would loathe if we ever returned to their sight!
Oh then, through the soul of the Singer, a pity so vast Mixed with his anguish that, smiting anew on his lyre, He caught up the sorrows of hell in his utterance at last, Comprehending the need of them all in his own great desire.
And they that were dead, in his radiant music, remembered the dawn with its low deep crimson, Heard the murmur of doves in the pine-wood, heard the moan of the roaming sea, Heard and remembered the little kisses, in woods where the last of the moon yet swims on Fragrant, flower-strewn April nights of young-eyed lovers in Arcady;
Saw the soft blue veils of shadow floating over the billowy grasses Under the crisp white curling clouds that sailed and trailed through the melting blue; Heard once more the quarrel of lovers above them pass, as a lark-song passes, Light and bright, till it vanished away in an eye-bright heaven of silvery dew.
Out of the dark, ah, white as the Huntress, cold and sweet as the petals that crowned her, Fair and fleet as a fawn that shakes the dew from the fern at break of day; Wreathed with the clouds of her dusky hair that swept in a sun-bright glory around her, On through the deserts of hell she came, and the brown air bloomed with the light of May.
On through the deserts of hell she came; for over the fierce and frozen meadows Pleaded ever the Voice of voices, calling his love by her golden name; So she arose from her grave in the darkness, and up through the wailing fires and shadows, On by chasm and cliff and cavern, out of the horrors of death she came.
Then had she followed him, then had he won her, striking a chord that should echo for ever, Had he been steadfast only a little, nor paused in the great transcendent song; But ere they had won to the glory of day, he came to the brink of the flaming river And ceased, to look on his love a moment, a little moment, and overlong.
O'er Phlegethon he stood: Below him roared and flamed The flood For utmost anguish named.
And lo, across the night, The shining form he knew With light Swift footsteps upward drew.
Up through the desolate lands She stole, a ghostly star, With hands Outstretched to him afar.
With arms outstretched, she came In yearning majesty, The same Royal Eurydice.
Up through the ghastly dead She came, with shining eyes And red Sweet lips of child-surprise.
Up through the wizened crowds She stole, as steals the moon Through clouds Of flowery mist in June.
He gazed: he ceased to smite The golden-chorded lyre: Delight Consumed his heart with fire.
Though in that deadly land His task was but half-done, His hand Drooped, and the fight half-won.
He saw the breasts that glowed, The fragrant clouds of hair: They flowed Around him like a snare.
O'er Phlegethon he stood, For utmost anguish named: The flood Below him roared and flamed.
Out of his hand the lyre Suddenly slipped and fell, The fire Acclaimed it into hell.
The night grew dark again: There came a bitter cry Of pain, Oh Love, once more I die!
And lo, the earth-dawn broke, And like a wraith she fled: He woke Alone: his love was dead.
He woke on earth: the day Shone coldly: at his side There lay The body of his bride.
Only now when the purple vintage bubbles and winks in the autumn glory, Only now when the great white oxen drag the weight of the harvest home, Sunburnt labourers, under the star of the sunset, sing as an old-world story How two pale and thwarted lovers ever through Arcady still must roam.
Faint as the silvery mists of morning over the peaks that the noonday parches, On through the haunts of the gloaming musk-rose, down to the rivers that glisten below, Ever they wander from meadow to pinewood, under the whispering woodbine arches, Faint as the mists of the dews of the dusk when violets dream and the moon-winds blow.
Though the golden lute of Orpheus gathered the splendours of earth and heaven, All the golden greenwood notes and all the chimes of the changing sea, Old men over the fires of winter murmur again that he was not given The steadfast heart divine to rule that infinite freedom of harmony.
Therefore he failed, say they; but we, that have no wisdom, can only remember How through the purple perfumed pinewoods white Eurydice roamed and sung: How through the whispering gold of the wheat, where the poppy burned like a crimson ember, Down to the valley in beauty she came, and under her feet the flowers upsprung.
Down to the valley she came, for far and far below in the dreaming meadows Pleaded ever the Voice of voices, calling his love by her golden name; So she arose from her home in the hills, and down through the blossoms that danced with their shadows, Out of the blue of the dreaming distance, down to the heart of her lover she came.
FROM THE SHORE
Love, so strangely lost and found, Love, beyond the seas of death, Love, immortally re-crowned, Love, who swayest this mortal breath, Sweetlier to thy lover's ear Steals the tale that ne'er was told; Bright-eyes, ah, thine arms are near, Nearer now than e'er of old.
When on earth thy hands were mine, Mine to hold for evermore, Oft we watched the sunset shine Lonely from this wave-beat shore; Pent in prison-cells of clay, Time had power on thee and me: Thou and heaven are one to-day, One with earth and sky and sea;
Indivisible and one! Beauty hath unlocked the Gate, Oped the portals of the sun, Burst the bars of Time and Fate! Violets in the dawn of Spring Hold the secret of thine eyes: Lilies bare their breasts and fling Scents of thee from Paradise.
Brooklets have thy talk by rote; Thy farewells array the West; Fur that clasped thee round the throat Leaps—a squirrel—to its nest! Backward from a sparkling eye Half-forgotten jests return Where the rabbit lollops by Hurry-scurry through the fern!
Roses where I lonely pass Brush my brow and breathe thy kiss: Zephyrs, whispering through the grass, Lure me on from bliss to bliss: Here thy robe is rustling close, There thy fluttering lace is blown,— All the tide of beauty flows Tributary to thine own.
Birds that sleek their shining throats Capture every curve from thee: All their golden warbled notes, Fragments of thy melody, Crowding, clustering, one by one, Build it upward, spray by spray, Till the lavrock in the sun Pours thy rapture down the day.
Silver birch and purple pine, Crumpled fern and crimson rose, Flash to feel their beauty thine, Clasp and fold thee, warm and close: Every beat and gleam of wings Holds thee in its bosom furled; All that chatters, laughs, and sings, Darts thy sparkle round the world.
Love, so strangely lost and found, Love, beyond the seas of death, Love, immortally re-crowned, Love, who swayest this mortal breath, Sweetlier to thy lover's ear Steals the tale that ne'er was told; Bright eyes, ah, thine arms are near, Nearer now than e'er of old.
O, hedges white with laughing may, O, meadows where we met, This heart of mine will break to-day Unless ye, too, forget.
Breathe not so sweet, breathe not so sweet, But swiftly let me pass Across the fields that felt her feet In the old time that was.
A year ago, but one brief year, O, happy flowering land, We wandered here and whispered there, And hand was warm in hand.
O, crisp white clouds beyond the hill, O, lavrock in the skies, Why do ye all remember still Her bright uplifted eyes.
Red heather on the windy moor, Wild thyme beside the way, White jasmine by the cottage door, Harden your hearts to-day.
Smile not so kind, smile not so kind, Thou happy haunted place, Or thou wilt strike these poor eyes blind With her remembered face.
O, unforgotten lips, grey haunting eyes, Soft curving cheeks and heart-remembered brow, It is all true, the old love never dies; And, parted, we must meet for ever now.
We did not think it true! We did not think Love meant this universal cry of pain, This crown of thorn, this vinegar to drink, This lonely crucifixion o'er again.
Yet through the darkness of the sleepless night Your tortured face comes meekly answering mine; Dumb, but I know why those mute lips are white; Dark, but I know why those dark lashes shine.
O, love, love, love, what death can set us free From this implacable ghost of memory?
Only a little, O Father, only to rest Or ever the night comes and the eternal sleep, Only to rest a little, a little to weep In the dead love's pitiful arms, on the dead love's breast,
A little to loosen the frozen fountains, to free Rivers of blood and tears that should slacken the pulse Of this pitiless heart, and appease these pangs that convulse Body and soul; oh, out of Eternity,
A moment to whisper, only a moment to tell My dead, my dead, what words are so helpless to say— The dreams unuttered, the prayers no passion could pray, And then—the eternal sleep or the pains of hell,
I could welcome them, Father, gladly as ever a child Laying his head on the pillow might turn to his rest And remember in dreams, as the hand of the mother is prest On his hair, how the Pitiful blessed him of old and smiled.
Thy house is dark and still: I stand once more Beside the marble door. It opens as of old: thy pale, pale face Peers thro' the narrow space: Thy hands are mine, thy hands are mine to hold, Just as of old.
"Hush! hush! or God will hear us! Ah, speak low As Love spake long ago." "Sweet, sweet, are these thine arms, thy breast, thy hair Assuaging my despair, Assuaging the long thirst, quenching the tears Of all these years?
"Thy house is deep and still: God cannot hear; Sweet, have no fear! Are not thy cold lips crushed against my kiss? Love gives us this, Not God;" but "Ah," she moans, "God hears us; speak, Speak low, hide cheek on cheek."
Oh then what eager whisperings, hoarded long, Sweeter than any song, What treasured news to tell, what hopes, what fears, Gleaned from the barren years, What raptures wrung from out the heart of pain, What wild farewells again!
Whose pity is this? Ah, quick, one kiss! Once more Closes the marble door! I grope here in the darkness all alone. Across the cold white stone, Over thy tomb, a sudden starlight gleams: Death gave me this—in dreams.
ON A RAILWAY PLATFORM
A drizzle of drifting rain And a blurred white lamp o'erhead, That shines as my love will shine again In the world of the dead.
Round me the wet black night, And, afar in the limitless gloom, Crimson and green, two blossoms of light, Two stars of doom.
But the night of death is aflare With a torch of back-blown fire, And the coal-black deeps of the quivering air Rend for my soul's desire.
Leap, heart, for the pulse and the roar And the lights of the streaming train That leaps with the heart of thy love once more Out of the mist and the rain.
Out of the desolate years The thundering pageant flows; But I see no more than a window of tears Which her face has turned to a rose.
Changed and estranged, like a ghost, I pass the familiar portals, Echoing now like a tomb, they accept me no more as of old; Yet I go wistfully onward, a shade thro' a kingdom of mortals Wanting a face to greet me, a hand to grasp and to hold.
Hardly I know as I go if the beautiful City is only Mocking me under the moon, with its streams and its willows agleam, Whether the City or friends or I that am friendless and lonely, Whether the boys that go by or the time-worn towers be the dream;
Whether the walls that I know, or the unknown fugitive faces, Faces like those that I loved, faces that haunt and waylay, Faces so like and unlike, in the dim unforgettable places, Startling the heart into sickness that aches with the sweet of the May,—
Whether all these or the world with its wars be the wandering shadows! Ah, sweet over green-gloomed waters the may hangs, crimson and white; And quiet canoes creep down by the warm gold dusk of the meadows, Lapping with little splashes and ripples of silvery light.
Others as I have returned: I shall see the old faces to-morrow, Down by the gay-coloured barges, alert for the throb of the oars, Wanting to row once again, or tenderly jesting with sorrow Up the old stairways and noting the strange new names on the doors.
Is it a dream? And I know not nor care if there be an awaking Ever at all any more, for the years that have torn us apart, Few, so few as they are, will ever be rending and breaking: Sooner by far than I knew have they wrought this change for my heart!
Well; I grow used to it now! Could the dream but remain and for ever, With the flowers round the grey quadrangle laughing as time grows old! For the waters go down to the sea, but the sky still gleams on the river! We plucked them—but there shall be lilies, ivory lilies and gold.
And still, in the beautiful City, the river of life is no duller, Only a little strange as the eighth hour dreamily chimes, In the City of friends and echoes, ribbons and music and colour, Lilac and blossoming chestnut, willows and whispering limes.
Over the Radcliffe Dome the moon as the ghost of a flower Weary and white awakes in the phantom fields of the sky: The trustful shepherded clouds are asleep over steeple and tower, Dark under Magdalen walls the Cher like a dream goes by.
Back, we come wandering back, poor ghosts, to the home that one misses Out in the shelterless world, the world that was heaven to us then, Back from the coil and the vastness, the stars and the boundless abysses, Like monks from a pilgrimage stealing in bliss to their cloisters again.
City of dreams that we lost, accept now the gift we inherit— Love, such a love as we knew not of old in the blaze of our noon, We that have found thee at last, half City, half heavenly Spirit, While over a mist of spires the sunset mellows the moon.
THE THREE SHIPS
(To an old Tune)
As I went up the mountain-side, The sea below me glittered wide, And, Eastward, far away, I spied On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day, The three great ships that take the tide On Christmas Day in the morning.
Ye have heard the song, how these must ply From the harbours of home to the ports o' the sky! Do ye dream none knoweth the whither and why On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day, The three great ships go sailing by On Christmas Day in the morning?
Yet, as I live, I never knew That ever a song could ring so true, Till I saw them break thro' a haze of blue On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day; And the marvellous ancient flags they flew On Christmas Day in the morning!
From the heights above the belfried town I saw that the sails were patched and brown, But the flags were a-flame with a great renown On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day, And on every mast was a golden crown On Christmas Day in the morning.
Most marvellous ancient ships were these! Were their prows a-plunge to the Chersonese? For the pomp of Rome or the glory of Greece, On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day, Were they out on a quest for the Golden Fleece On Christmas Day in the morning?
And the sun and the wind they told me there How goodly a load the three ships bear, For the first is gold and the second is myrrh On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day; And the third is frankincense most rare On Christmas Day in the morning.
They have mixed their shrouds with the golden sky, They have faded away where the last dreams die ... Ah yet, will ye watch, when the mist lifts high On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day? Will ye see three ships come sailing by On Christmas Day in the morning?
SLUMBER-SONGS OF THE MADONNA
Dante saw the great white Rose Half unclose; Dante saw the golden bees Gathering from its heart of gold Sweets untold, Love's most honeyed harmonies.
Dante saw the threefold bow Strangely glow, Saw the Rainbow Vision rise, And the Flame that wore the crown Bending down O'er the flowers of Paradise.
Something yet remained, it seems; In his dreams Dante missed—as angels may In their white and burning bliss— Some small kiss Mortals meet with every day.
Italy in splendour faints 'Neath her saints! O, her great Madonnas, too, Faces calm as any moon Glows in June, Hooded with the night's deep blue!
What remains? I pass and hear Everywhere, Ay, or see in silent eyes Just the song she still would sing Thus—a-swing O'er the cradle where He lies.
Sleep, little baby, I love thee. Sleep, little king, I am bending above thee. How should I know what to sing Here in my arms as I swing thee to sleep? Hushaby low, Rockaby so, Kings may have wonderful jewels to bring, Mother has only a kiss for her king! Why should my singing so make me to weep? Only I know that I love thee, I love thee, Love thee, my little one, sleep.
Is it a dream? Ah yet, it seems Not the same as other dreams! I can but think that angels sang, When thou wast born, in the starry sky, And that their golden harps out-rang While the silver clouds went by!
The morning sun shuts out the stars, Which are much loftier than the sun; But, could we burst our prison-bars And find the Light whence light begun, The dreams that heralded thy birth Were truer than the truths of earth; And, by that far immortal Gleam, Soul of my soul, I still would dream!
A ring of light was round thy head, The great-eyed oxen nigh thy bed Their cold and innocent noses bowed! Their sweet breath rose like an incense cloud In the blurred and mystic lanthorn light.
About the middle of the night The black door blazed like some great star With a glory from afar, Or like some mighty chrysolite Wherein an angel stood with white Blinding arrowy bladed wings Before the throne of the King of kings; And, through it, I could dimly see A great steed tethered to a tree.
Then, with crimson gems aflame Through the door the three kings came, And the black Ethiop unrolled The richly broidered cloth of gold, And poured forth before thee there Gold and frankincense and myrrh!
See, what a wonderful smile! Does it mean That my little one knows of my love? Was it meant for an angel that passed unseen, And smiled at us both from above? Does it mean that he knows of the birds and the flowers That are waiting to sweeten his childhood's hours, And the tales I shall tell and the games he will play, And the songs we shall sing and the prayers we shall pray In his boyhood's May, He and I, one day?
For in the warm blue summer weather We shall laugh and love together: I shall watch my baby growing, I shall guide his feet, When the orange trees are blowing And the winds are heavy and sweet!
When the orange orchards whiten I shall see his great eyes brighten To watch the long-legged camels going Up the twisted street, When the orange trees are blowing And the winds are sweet.
What does it mean? Indeed, it seems A dream! Yet not like other dreams!
We shall walk in pleasant vales, Listening to the shepherd's song I shall tell him lovely tales All day long: He shall laugh while mother sings Tales of fishermen and kings.
He shall see them come and go O'er the wistful sea, Where rosy oleanders blow Round blue Lake Galilee, Kings with fishers' ragged coats And silver nets across their boats, Dipping through the starry glow, With crowns for him and me! Ah, no; Crowns for him, not me!
Rockaby so! Indeed, it seems A dream! Yet not like other dreams!
Ah, see what a wonderful smile again! Shall I hide it away in my heart, To remember one day in a world of pain When the years have torn us apart, Little babe, When the years have torn us apart?
Sleep, my little one, sleep, Child with the wonderful eyes, Wild miraculous eyes, Deep as the skies are deep! What star-bright glory of tears Waits in you now for the years That shall bid you waken and weep? Ah, in that day, could I kiss you to sleep Then, little lips, little eyes, Little lips that are lovely and wise, Little lips that are dreadful and wise!
Clenched little hands like crumpled roses Dimpled and dear, Feet like flowers that the dawn uncloses, What do I fear? Little hands, will you ever be clenched in anguish? White little limbs, will you droop and languish? Nay, what do I hear? I hear a shouting, far away, You shall ride on a kingly palm-strewn way Some day!
But when you are crowned with a golden crown And throned on a golden throne, You'll forget the manger of Bethlehem town And your mother that sits alone
Wondering whether the mighty king Remembers a song she used to sing, Long ago, "Rockaby so, Kings may have wonderful jewels to bring, Mother has only a kiss for her king!"...
Ah, see what a wonderful smile, once more! He opens his great dark eyes! Little child, little king, nay, hush, it is o'er My fear of those deep twin skies,— Little child, You are all too dreadful and wise!
But now you are mine, all mine, And your feet can lie in my hand so small, And your tiny hands in my heart can twine, And you cannot walk, so you never shall fall, Or be pierced by the thorns beside the door, Or the nails that lie upon Joseph's floor; Through sun and rain, through shadow and shine, You are mine, all mine!
In the Black Country, from a little window, Before I slept, across the haggard wastes Of dust and ashes, I saw Titanic shafts Like shadowy columns of wan-hope arise To waste, on the blear sky, their slow sad wreaths Of smoke, their infinitely sad slow prayers. Then, as night deepened, the blast-furnaces, Red smears upon the sulphurous blackness, turned All that sad region to a City of Dis, Where naked, sweating giants all night long Bowed their strong necks, melted flesh, blood and bone, To brim the dry ducts of the gods of gloom With terrible rivers, branches of living gold.
O, like some tragic gesture of great souls In agony, those awful columns towered Against the clouds, that city of ash and slag Assumed the grandeur of some direr Thebes Arising to the death-chant of those gods, A dreadful Order climbing from the dark Of Chaos and Corruption, threatening to take Heaven with its vast slow storm. I slept, and dreamed. And like the slow beats of some Titan heart Buried beneath immeasurable woes, The forging-hammers thudded through the dream:
Huge on a fallen tree, Lost in the darkness of primeval woods, Enceladus, earth-born Enceladus, The naked giant, brooded all alone. Born of the lower earth, he knew not how, Born of the mire and clay, he knew not when, Brought forth in darkness, and he knew not why!
Thus, like a wind, went by a thousand years.
Anhungered, yet no comrade of the wolf, And cold, but with no power upon the sun, A master of this world that mastered him!
Thus, like a cloud, went by a thousand years.
Who chained this other giant in his heart That heaved and burned like Etna? Heavily He bent his brows and wondered and was dumb.
And, like one wave, a thousand years went by.
He raised his matted head and scanned the stars. He stood erect! He lifted his uncouth arms! With inarticulate sounds his uncouth lips Wrestled and strove—I am full-fed, and yet I hunger! Who set this fiercer famine in my maw?
Can I eat moons, gorge on the Milky Way, Swill sunsets down, or sup the wash of the dawn Out of the rolling swine-troughs of the sea? Can I drink oceans, lie beneath the mountains, And nuzzle their heavy boulders like a cub Sucking the dark teats of the tigress? Who, Who set this deeper hunger in my heart? And the dark forest echoed—Who? Ah, who?
"I hunger!" And the night-wind answered him, "Hunt, then, for food."
"I hunger!" And the sleek gorged lioness Drew nigh him, dripping freshly from the kill, Redder her lolling tongue, whiter her fangs, And gazed with ignorant eyes of golden flame.
"I hunger!" Like a breaking sea his cry Swept through the night. Against his swarthy knees She rubbed the red wet velvet of her ears With mellow thunders of unweeting bliss, Purring—Ah, seek, and you shall find. Ah, seek, and you shall slaughter, gorge, ah seek, Seek, seek, you shall feed full, ah seek, ah seek.
Enceladus, earth-born Enceladus, Bewildered like a desert-pilgrim, saw A rosy City, opening in the clouds, The hunger-born mirage of his own heart, Far, far above the world, a home of gods, Where One, a goddess, veiled in the sleek waves Of her deep hair, yet glimmering golden through, Lifted, with radiant arms, ambrosial food For hunger such as this! Up the dark hills, He rushed, a thunder-cloud, Urged by the famine of his heart. He stood High on the topmost crags, he hailed the gods In thunder, and the clouds re-echoed it!
He hailed the gods! And like a sea of thunder round their thrones Washing, a midnight sea, his earth-born voice Besieged the halls of heaven! He hailed the gods! They laughed, he heard them laugh! With echo and re-echo, far and wide, A golden sea of mockery, they laughed!
Enceladus, earth-born Enceladus, Laid hold upon the rosy Gates of Heaven, And shook them with gigantic sooty hands, Asking he knew not what, but not for alms; And the Gates, opened as in jest; And, like a sooty jest, he stumbled in.
Round him the gods, the young and scornful gods, Clustered and laughed to mark the ravaged face, The brutal brows, the deep and dog-like eyes, The blunt black nails, and back with burdens bowed. And, when they laughed, he snarled with uncouth lips And made them laugh again. "Whence comest thou?" He could not speak! How should he speak whose heart within him heaved And burned like Etna? Through his mouth there came A sound of ice-bergs in a frozen sea Of tears, a sullen region of black ice Rending and breaking, very far away. They laughed! He stared at them, bewildered, and they laughed Again, "Whence comest thou?"
He could not speak! But through his mouth a moan of midnight woods, Where wild beasts lay in wait to slaughter and gorge, A moan of forest-caverns where the wolf Brought forth her litter, a moan of the wild earth In travail with strange shapes of mire and clay, Creatures of clay, clay images of the gods, That hungered like the gods, the most high gods, But found no food, and perished like the beasts.
And the gods laughed,— Art thou, then, such a god? And, like a leaf Unfolding in dark woods, in his deep brain A sudden memory woke; and like an ape He nodded, and all heaven with laughter rocked, While Artemis cried out with scornful lips,— Perchance He is the Maker of you all!
Then, piteously outstretching calloused hands, He sank upon his knees, his huge gnarled knees, And echoed, falteringly, with slow harsh tongue,— Perchance, perchance, the Maker of you all.
They wept with laughter! And Aphrodite, she, With keener mockery than white Artemis Who smiled aloof, drew nigh him unabashed In all her blinding beauty. Carelessly, As o'er the brute brows of a stalled ox Across that sooty muzzle and brawny breast, Contemptuously, she swept her golden hair In one deep wave, a many-millioned scourge Intolerable and beautiful as fire; Then turned and left him, reeling, gasping, dumb, While heaven re-echoed and re-echoed, See, Perchance, perchance, the Maker of us all!
Enceladus, earth-born Enceladus, Rose to his feet, and with one terrible cry "I hunger," rushed upon the scornful gods And strove to seize and hold them with his hands, And still the laughter deepened as they rolled Their clouds around them, baffling him. But once, Once with a shout, in his gigantic arms He crushed a slippery splendour on his breast And felt on his harsh skin the cool smooth peaks Of Aphrodite's bosom. One black hand Slid down the naked snow of her long side And bruised it where he held her. Then, like snow Vanishing in a furnace, out of his arms The splendour suddenly melted, and a roll Of thunder split the dream, and headlong down He fell, from heaven to earth; while, overhead The young and scornful gods—he heard them laugh!— Toppled the crags down after him. He lay Supine. They plucked up Etna by the roots And buried him beneath it. His broad breast Heaved, like that other giant in his heart, And through the crater burst his fiery breath, But could not burst his bonds. And so he lay Breathing in agony thrice a thousand years.
Then came a Voice, he knew not whence, "Arise, Enceladus!" And from his heart a crag Fell, and one arm was free, and one thought free, And suddenly he awoke, and stood upright, Shaking the mountains from him like a dream; And the tremendous light and awful truth Smote, like the dawn, upon his blinded eyes, That out of his first wonder at the world, Out of his own heart's deep humility, And simple worship, he had fashioned gods Of cloud, and heaven out of a hollow shell. And groping now no more in the empty space Outward, but inward in his own deep heart, He suddenly felt the secret gates of heaven Open, and from the infinite heavens of hope Inward, a voice, from the innermost courts of Love, Rang—Thou shall have none other gods but Me.
Enceladus, the foul Enceladus, When the clear light out of that inward heaven Whose gates are only inward in the soul, Showed him that one true Kingdom, said, "I will stretch My hands out once again. And, as the God That made me is the Heart within my heart, So shall my heart be to this dust and earth A god and a creator. I will strive With mountains, fires and seas, wrestle and strive, Fashion and make, and that which I have made In anguish I shall love as God loves me."
In the Black Country, from a little window, Waking at dawn, I saw those giant Shafts —O great dark word out of our elder speech, Long since the poor man's kingly heritage— The Shapings, the dim Sceptres of Creation, The Shafts like columns of wan-hope arise To waste, on the blear sky, their slow sad wreaths Of smoke, their infinitely sad slow prayers. Then, as the dawn crimsoned, the sordid clouds, The puddling furnaces, the mounds of slag, The cinders, and the sand-beds and the rows Of wretched roofs, assumed a majesty Beyond all majesties of earth or air; Beauty beyond all beauty, as of a child In rags, upraised thro' the still gold of heaven, With wasted arms and hungering eyes, to bring The armoured seraphim down upon their knees And teach eternal God humility; The solemn beauty of the unfulfilled Moving towards fulfilment on a height Beyond all heights; the dreadful beauty of hope; The naked wrestler struggling from the rock Under the sculptor's chisel; the rough mass Of clay more glorious for the poor blind face And bosom that half emerge into the light, More glorious and august, even in defeat, Than that too cold dominion God foreswore To bear this passionate universal load, This Calvary of Creation, with mankind.
IN THE COOL OF THE EVENING
In the cool of the evening, when the low sweet whispers waken, When the labourers turn them homeward, and the weary have their will, When the censers of the roses o'er the forest-aisles are shaken, Is it but the wind that cometh o'er the far green hill?
For they say 'tis but the sunset winds that wander through the heather, Rustle all the meadow-grass and bend the dewy fern; They say 'tis but the winds that bow the reeds in prayer together, And fill the shaken pools with fire along the shadowy burn.
In the beauty of the twilight, in the Garden that He loveth, They have veiled His lovely vesture with the darkness of a name! Thro' His Garden, thro' His Garden it is but the wind that moveth, No more; but O, the miracle, the miracle is the same!
In the cool of the evening, when the sky is an old story Slowly dying, but remembered, ay, and loved with passion still, Hush!... the fringes of His garment, in the fading golden glory, Softly rustling as He cometh o'er the far green hill.
A ROUNDHEAD'S RALLYING SONG
How beautiful is the battle, How splendid are the spears, When our banner is the sky And our watchword Liberty, And our kingdom lifted high above the years.
How purple shall our blood be, How glorious our scars, When we lie there in the night With our faces full of light And the death upon them smiling at the stars.
How golden is our hauberk, And steel, and steel our sword, And our shield without a stain As we take the field again, We whose armour is the armour of the Lord!
"The shrines are dust, the gods are dead," They cried in ancient Rome! "Ah yet, the Idalian rose is red, And bright the Paphian foam: For all your Galilaean tears We turn to her," men say ... But we, we hasten thro' the years To our own yesterday.
Thro' all the thousand years ye need To make the lost so fair, Before ye can award His meed Of perfect praise and prayer! Ye liberated souls, the crown Is yours; and yet, some few Can hail, as this great Cross goes down Its distant triumph, too.
Poor scornful Lilliputian souls, And are ye still too proud To risk your little aureoles By kneeling with the crowd? Do ye still dream ye "stand alone" So fearless and so strong? To-day we claim the rebels' throne And leave you with the throng.
Yes, He has conquered! You at least The "van-guard" leaves behind To croon old tales of king and priest In the ingles of mankind: The breast of Aphrodite glows, Apollo's face is fair; But O, the world's wide anguish knows No Apollonian prayer.
Not ours to scorn the first white gleam Of beauty on this earth, The clouds of dawn, the nectarous dream, The gods of simpler birth; But, as ye praise them, your own cry Is fraught with deeper pain, And the Compassionate ye deny Returns, returns again.
O, worshippers of the beautiful, Is this the end then, this,— That ye can only see the skull Beneath the face of bliss? No monk in the dark years ye scorn So barren a pathway trod As ye who, ceasing not to mourn, Deny the mourner's God.
And, while ye scoff, on every side Great hints of Him go by,— Souls that are hourly crucified On some new Calvary! O, tortured faces, white and meek, Half seen amidst the crowd, Grey suffering lips that never speak, The Glory in the Cloud!
In flower and dust, in chaff and grain, He binds Himself and dies! We live by His eternal pain, His hourly sacrifice; The limits of our mortal life Are His. The whisper thrills Under the sea's perpetual strife, And through the sunburnt hills.
Darkly, as in a glass, our sight Still gropes thro' Time and Space: We cannot see the Light of Light With angels, face to face: Only the tale His martyrs tell Around the dark earth rings He died and He went down to hell And lives—the King of Kings!
And, while ye scoff, from shore to shore, From sea to moaning sea, Eloi, Eloi, goes up once more Lama sabacthani! The heavens are like a scroll unfurled, The writing flames above— This is the King of all the world Upon His Cross of Love.
DEDICATED TO RUDOLPH CHAMBERS LEHMANN
PROLOGUE TO AMERICAN EDITION
England, my mother, Lift to my western sweetheart One full cup of English mead, breathing of the may! Pledge the may-flower in her face that you and ah, none other, Sent her from the mother-land Across the dashing spray.
Hers and yours the story: Think of it, oh, think of it— That immortal dream when El Dorado flushed the skies! Fill the beaker full and drink to Drake's undying glory, Yours and hers (Oh, drink of it!) The dream that never dies.
Yours and hers the free-men Who scanned the stars and westward sung When a king commanded and the Atlantic thundered "Nay!" Hers as yours the pride is, for Drake our first of seamen First upon his bow-sprit hung That bunch of English may.
Pledge her deep, my mother; Through her veins thy life-stream runs! Spare a thought, too, sweetheart, for my mother o'er the sea! Younger eyes are yours; but ah, those old eyes and none other Once bedewed the may-flower; once, As yours, were clear and free.
Once! Nay, now as ever Beats within her ancient heart All the faith that took you forth to seek your heaven alone: Shadows come and go; but let no shade of doubt dissever, Cloak, or cloud, or keep apart Two souls whose prayer is one.
Sweetheart, ah, be tender— Tender with her prayer to-night! Such a goal might yet be ours!—the battle-flags be furled, All the wars of earth be crushed, if only now your slender Hand should grasp her gnarled old hand And federate the world.
Foolish it may seem, sweet! Still the battle thunder lours: Darker look the Dreadnoughts as old Europe goes her way! Yet your hand, your hand, has power to crush that evil dream, sweet; You, with younger eyes than ours And brows of English may.
If a singer cherishes Idle dreams or idle words, You shall judge—and you'll forgive: for, far away or nigh, Still abides that Vision without which a people perishes: Love will strike the atoning chords! Hark—there comes a cry!
Over all this earth, sweet, The poor and weak look up to you— Lift their burdened shoulders, stretch their fettered hands in prayer: You, with gentle hands, can bring the world-wide dream to birth, sweet, While I lift this cup to you And wonder—will she care?
Kindle, eyes, and beat, heart! Hold the brimming breaker up! All the may is burgeoning from East to golden West! England, my mother, greet America, my sweetheart: —Ah, but ere I drained the cup I found her on your breast.
When on the highest ridge of that strange land, Under the cloudless blinding tropic blue, Drake and his band of swarthy seamen stood With dazed eyes gazing round them, emerald fans Of palm that fell like fountains over cliffs Of gorgeous red anana bloom obscured Their sight on every side. Illustrious gleams Of rose and green and gold streamed from the plumes That flashed like living rainbows through the glades. Piratic glints of musketoon and sword, The scarlet scarves around the tawny throats, The bright gold ear-rings in the sun-black ears, And the calm faces of the negro guides Opposed their barbarous bravery to the noon; Yet a deep silence dreadfully besieged Even those mighty hearts upon the verge Of the undiscovered world. Behind them lay The old earth they knew. In front they could not see What lay beyond the ridge. Only they heard Cries of the painted birds troubling the heat And shivering through the woods; till Francis Drake Plunged through the hush, took hold upon a tree, The tallest near them, and clomb upward, branch By branch. And there, as he swung clear above The steep-down forest, on his wondering eyes, Mile upon mile of rugged shimmering gold, Burst the unknown immeasurable sea. Then he descended; and with a new voice Vowed that, God helping, he would one day plough Those virgin waters with an English keel.
So here before the unattempted task, Above the Golden Ocean of my dream I clomb and saw in splendid pageant pass The wild adventures and heroic deeds Of England's epic age, a vision lit With mighty prophecies, fraught with a doom Worthy the great Homeric roll of song, Yet all unsung and unrecorded quite By those who might have touched with Raphael's hand The large imperial legend of our race, Ere it brought forth the braggarts of an hour, Self-worshippers who love their imaged strength, And as a symbol for their own proud selves Misuse the sacred name of this dear land, While England to the Empire of her soul Like some great Prophet passes through the crowd That cannot understand; for he must climb Up to that sovran thunder-smitten peak Where he shall grave and trench on adamant The Law that God shall utter by the still Small voice, not by the whirlwind or the fire. There labouring for the Highest in himself He shall achieve the good of all mankind; And from that lonely Sinai shall return Triumphant o'er the little gods of gold That rule their little hour upon the plain.
Oh, thou blind master of these opened eyes Be near me, therefore, now; for not in pride I lift lame hands to this imperious theme; But yearning to a power above mine own Even as a man might lift his hands in prayer. Or as a child, perchance, in those dark days When London lay beleaguered and the axe Flashed out for a bigot empire; and the blood Of martyrs made a purple path for Spain Up to the throne of Mary; as a child Gathering with friends upon a winter's morn For some mock fight between the hateful prince Philip and Thomas Wyatt, all at once Might see in gorgeous ruffs embastioned Popinjay plumes and slouching hats of Spain, Gay shimmering silks and rich encrusted gems, Gold collars, rare brocades, and sleek trunk-hose The Ambassador and peacock courtiers come Strutting along the white snow-strangled street, A walking plot of scarlet Spanish flowers, And with one cry a hundred boyish hands Put them to flight with snowballs, while the wind All round their Spanish ears hissed like a flight Of white-winged geese; so may I wage perchance A mimic war with all my heart in it, Munitioned with mere perishable snow Which mightier hands one day will urge with steel. Yet may they still remember me as I Remember, with one little laugh of love, That child's game, this were wealth enough for me.
Mother and love, fair England, hear my prayer; Help me that I may tell the enduring tale Of that great seaman, good at need, who first Sailed round this globe and made one little isle, One little isle against that huge Empire Of Spain whose might was paramount on earth, O'ertopping Babylon, Nineveh, Greece, and Rome, Carthage and all huge Empires of the past, He made this little isle, against the world, Queen of the earth and sea. Nor this alone The theme; for, in a mightier strife engaged Even than he knew, he fought for the new faiths, Championing our manhood as it rose And cast its feudal chains before the seat Of kings; nay, in a mightier battle yet He fought for the soul's freedom, fought the fight Which, though it still rings in our wondering ears, Was won then and for ever—that great war, That last Crusade of Christ against His priests, Wherein Spain fell behind a thunderous roar Of ocean triumph over burning ships And shattered fleets, while England, England rose, Her white cliffs laughing out across the waves, Victorious over all her enemies.
And while he won the world for her domain, Her loins brought forth, her fostering bosom fed Souls that have swept the spiritual seas From heaven to hell, and justified her crown. For round the throne of great Elizabeth Spenser and Burleigh, Sidney and Verulam, Clustered like stars, rare Jonson like the crown Of Cassiopeia, Marlowe ruddy as Mars, And over all those mighty hearts arose The soul of Shakespeare brooding far and wide Beyond our small horizons, like a light Thrown from a vaster sun that still illumes Tracts which the arc of our increasing day Must still leave undiscovered, unexplored.
Mother and love, fair England, hear my prayer, As thou didst touch the heart and light the flame Of wonder in those eyes which first awoke To beauty and the sea's adventurous dream Three hundred years ago, three hundred years, And five long decades, in the leafy lanes Of Devon, where the tallest trees that bore The raven's matted nest had yielded up Their booty, while the perilous branches swayed Beneath the boyish privateer, the king Of many young companions, Francis Drake; So hear me, and so help, for more than his My need is, even than when he first set sail Upon that wild adventure with three ships And three-score men from grey old Plymouth Sound, Not knowing if he went to life or death, Not caring greatly, so that he were true To his own sleepless and unfaltering soul Which could not choose but hear the ringing call Across the splendours of the Spanish Main From ever fading, ever new horizons, And shores beyond the sunset and the sea.
Mother and sweetheart, England; from whose breast, With all the world before them, they went forth, Thy seamen, o'er the wide uncharted waste, Wider than that Ulysses roamed of old, Even as the wine-dark Mediterranean Is wider than some wave-relinquished pool Among its rocks, yet none the less explored To greater ends than all the pride of Greece And pomp of Rome achieved; if my poor song Now spread too wide a sail, forgive thy son And lover, for thy love was ever wont To lift men up in pride above themselves To do great deeds which of themselves alone They could not; thou hast led the unfaltering feet Of even thy meanest heroes down to death, Lifted poor knights to many a great emprise, Taught them high thoughts, and though they kept their souls Lowly as little children, bidden them lift Eyes unappalled by all the myriad stars That wheel around the great white throne of God.
Now through the great doors of the Council-room Magnificently streamed in rich array The peers of England, regal of aspect And grave. Their silence waited for the Queen: And even now she came; and through their midst, Low as they bowed, she passed without a smile And took her royal seat. A bodeful hush Of huge anticipation gripped all hearts, Compressed all brows, and loaded the broad noon With gathering thunder: none knew what the hour Might yet bring forth; but the dark fire of war Smouldered in every eye; for every day The Council met debating how to join Honour with peace, and every day new tales Of English wrongs received from the red hands Of that gigantic Empire, insolent Spain, spurred fiercer resentments up like steeds Revolting, on the curb, foaming for battle, In all men's minds, against whatever odds. On one side of the throne great Walsingham, A lion of England, couchant, watchful, calm, Was now the master of opinion: all Drew to him. Even the hunchback Burleigh smiled With half-ironic admiration now, As in the presence of the Queen they met Amid the sweeping splendours of her court, A cynic smile that seemed to say, "I, too, Would fain regain that forthright heart of fire; Yet statesmanship is but a smoother name For the superior cunning which ensures Victory." And the Queen, too, knowing her strength And weakness, though her woman's heart leaped out To courage, yet with woman's craft preferred The subtler strength of Burleigh; for she knew Mary of Scotland waited for that war To strike her in the side for Rome; she knew How many thousands lurked in England still Remembering Rome and bloody Mary's reign. France o'er a wall of bleeding Huguenots Watched for an hour to strike. Against all these What shield could England raise, this little isle,— Out-matched, outnumbered, perilously near Utter destruction?
So the long debate Proceeded.
All at once there came a cry Along the streets and at the palace-gates And at the great doors of the Council-room! Then through the pikes and halberds a voice rose Imperative for entrance, and the guards Made way, and a strange whisper surged around, And through the peers of England thrilled the blood Of Agincourt as to the foot of the throne Came Leicester, for behind him as he came A seaman stumbled, travel-stained and torn, Crying for justice, and gasped out his tale. "The Spaniards," he moaned, "the Inquisition! They have taken all my comrades, all our crew, And flung them into dungeons: there they lie Waiting for England, waiting for their Queen! Will you not free them? I alone am left! All London is afire with it, for this Was one of your chief city merchant's ships— The Pride of London, one of Osborne's ships! But there is none to help them! I escaped With shrieks of torment ringing in these ears, The glare of torture-chambers in these eyes That see no faces anywhere but blind Blind faces, each a bruise of white that smiles In idiot agony, washed with sweat and blood, The face of some strange thing that once was man, And now can only turn from side to side Babbling like a child, with mouth agape, And crying for help where there is none to hear Save those black vizards in the furnace-glow, Moving like devils at their hellish trade...." He paused; his memory sickened, his brain swooned Back into that wild glare of obscene pain! Once more to his ears and nostrils horribly crept The hiss and smell of shrivelling human flesh! His dumb stare told the rest: his head sank down; He strove in agony With what all hideous words must leave untold; While Leicester vouched him, "This man's tale is true!" But like a gathering storm a low deep moan Of passion, like a tiger's, slowly crept From the grey lips of Walsingham. "My Queen, Will you not free them?"
Then Elizabeth, Whose name is one for ever with the name Of England, rose; and in her face the gleam Of justice that makes anger terrible Shone, and she stretched her glittering sceptre forth And spoke, with distant empires in her eyes.
"My lords, this is the last cry they shall wring From English lips unheeded: we will have Such remedies for this as all the world Shall tremble at!" And, on that night, while Drake Close in his London lodging lay concealed Until he knew if it were peace or war With Spain (for he had struck on the high seas At Spain; and well he knew if it were peace His blood would be made witness to that bond, And he must die a pirate's death or fly Westward once more), there all alone, he pored By a struggling rushlight o'er a well-thumbed chart Of magic islands in the enchanted seas, Dreaming, as boys and poets only dream With those that see God's wonders in the deep, Perilous visions of those palmy keys, Cocoa-nut islands, parrot-haunted woods, Crisp coral reefs and blue shark-finned lagoons Fringed with the creaming foam, mile upon mile Of mystery. Dream after dream went by, Colouring the brown air of that London night With many a mad miraculous romance.
There, suddenly, some augury, some flash Showed him a coming promise, a strange hint, Which, though he played with it, he scarce believed; Strange as in some dark cave the first fierce gleam Of pirate gold to some forlorn maroon Who tiptoes to the heap and glances round Askance, and dreads to hear what erst he longed To hear—some voice to break the hush; but bathes Both hands with childish laughter in the gold, And lets it trickle through his fevered palms, And begins counting half a hundred times And loses count each time for sheer delight And wonder in it; meantime, if he knew, Passing the cave-mouth, far away, beyond The still lagoon, the coral reef, the foam And the white fluttering chatter of the birds, A sail that might have saved him comes and goes Unseen across the blue Pacific sea. So Drake, too, played with fancies; but that sail Passed not unseen, for suddenly there came A firm and heavy footstep to the door, Then a loud knocking: and, at first, he thought "I am a dead man: there is peace with Spain, And they are come to lead me to my doom." But, as he looked across one shoulder, pride Checking the fuller watch for what he feared, The door opened; and cold as from the sea The night rushed in, and there against the gloom, Clad, as it seemed, with wind and cloud and rain, There loomed a stately form and high grim face Loaded with deadly thoughts of iron war— Walsingham,—in one hand he held a map Marked with red lines; the other hand held down The rich encrusted hilt of his great sword. Then Drake rose, and the other cautiously Closing the door drew near the flickering light And spread his map out on the table, saying— "Mark for me here the points whereat the King Philip of Spain may best be wounded, mark The joints of his harness;" and Drake looked at him Thinking, "If he betray me, I am dead."
But the soldier met his eyes and, with a laugh, Drake, quivering like a bloodhound in the leash, Stooped, with his finger pointing thus and thus— "Here would I guard, here would I lie in wait, Here would I strike him through the breast and throat." And as he spoke he kindled, and began To set forth his great dreams, and high romance Rose like a moon reflecting the true sun Unseen; and as the full round moon indeed Rising behind a mighty mountain-chain Will shadow forth in outline grim and black Its vast and ragged edges, so that moon Of high romance rose greatly shadowing forth The grandeur of his dreams, until their might Dawned upon Walsingham, and he, too, saw For a moment of muffled moonlight and wild cloud The vision of the imperious years to be! But suddenly Drake paused as one who strays Beyond the bounds of caution, paused and cursed His tongue for prating like a moon-struck boy's. "I am mad," he cried, "I am mad to babble so!" Then Walsingham drew near him with strange eyes And muttered slowly, "Write that madness down; Ay, write it down, that madman's plan of thine; Sign it, and let me take it to the Queen." But the weather-wiser seaman warily Answered him, "If it please Almighty God To take away our Queen Elizabeth, Seeing that she is mortal as ourselves, England might then be leagued with Spain, and I Should here have sealed my doom. I will not put My pen to paper." So, across the charts With that dim light on each grim countenance The seaman and the courtier subtly fenced With words and thoughts, but neither would betray His whole heart to the other. At the last Walsingham gripped the hand of Francis Drake And left him wondering.
On the third night came A messenger from Walsingham who bade Drake to the Palace where, without one word, The statesman met him in an anteroom And led him, with flushed cheek and beating heart, Along a mighty gold-gloomed corridor Into a high-arched chamber, hung with tall Curtains of gold-fringed silk and tapestries From Flanders looms, whereon were flowers and beasts And forest-work, great knights, with hawk on hand, Riding for ever on their glimmering steeds Through bowery glades to some immortal face Beyond the fairy fringes of the world. A silver lamp swung softly overhead, Fed with some perfumed oil that shed abroad Delicious light and fragrances as rare As those that stirred faint wings at eventide Through the King's House in Lebanon of old. Into a quietness as of fallen bloom Their feet sank in that chamber; and, all round, Soft hills of Moorish cushions dimly drowsed On glimmering crimson couches. Near the lamp An ebony chess-board stood inlaid with squares Of ruby and emerald, garnished with cinquefoils Of silver, bears and ragged staves; the men, Likewise of precious stones, were all arrayed— Bishops and knights and elephants and pawns— As for a game. Sixteen of them were set In silver white, the other sixteen gilt. Now, as Drake gazed upon an arras, nigh The farther doors, whereon was richly wrought The picture of that grave and lovely queen Penelope, with cold hands weaving still The unending web, while in an outer court The broad-limbed wooers basking in the sun On purple fleeces took from white-armed girls, Up-kirtled to the knee, the crimson wine; There, as he gazed and thought, "Is this not like Our Queen Elizabeth who waits and weaves, Penelope of England, her dark web Unendingly till England's Empire come;" There, as he gazed, for a moment, he could vow The pictured arras moved. Well had it been Had he drawn sword and pierced it through and through; But he suspected nothing and said nought To Walsingham; for thereupon they heard The sound of a low lute and a sweet voice Carolling like a gold-caged nightingale, Caught by the fowlers ere he found his mate, And singing all his heart out evermore To the unknown forest-love he ne'er should see. And Walsingham smiled sadly to himself, Knowing the weary queen had bidden some maid Sing to her, even as David sang to Saul; Since all her heart was bitter with her love Or so it was breathed (and there the chess-board stood, Her love's device upon it), though she still, For England's sake, must keep great foreign kings Her suitors, wedding no man till she died. Nor did she know how, in her happiest hour Remembered now most sorrowfully, the moon, Vicegerent of the sky, through summer dews, As that sweet ballad tells in plaintive rhyme, Silvering the grey old Cumnor towers and all The hollow haunted oaks that grew thereby, Gleamed on a casement whence the pure white face Of Amy Robsart, wife of Leicester, wife Unknown of the Queen's lover, a frail bar To that proud Earl's ambition, quietly gazed And heard the night-owl hoot a dark presage Of murder through her timid shuddering heart. But of that deed Elizabeth knew nought; Nay, white as Amy Robsart in her dream Of love she listened to the sobbing lute, Bitterly happy, proudly desolate; So heavy are all earth's crowns and sharp with thorns! But tenderly that high-born maiden sang.
Now the purple night is past, Now the moon more faintly glows, Dawn has through thy casement cast Roses on thy breast, a rose; Now the kisses are all done, Now the world awakes anew, Now the charmed hour is gone, Let not love go, too.
When old winter, creeping nigh, Sprinkles raven hair with white, Dims the brightly glancing eye, Laughs away the dancing light, Roses may forget their sun, Lilies may forget their dew, Beauties perish, one by one, Let not love go, too.
Palaces and towers of pride Crumble year by year away; Creeds like robes are laid aside, Even our very tombs decay! When the all-conquering moth and rust Gnaw the goodly garment through, When the dust returns to dust, Let not love go, too.
Kingdoms melt away like snow, Gods are spent like wasting flames, Hardly the new peoples know Their divine thrice-worshipped names! At the last great hour of all, When thou makest all things new, Father, hear Thy children call, Let not love go, too.
The song ceased: all was still; and now it seemed Power brooded on the silence, and Drake saw A woman come to meet him,—tall and pale And proud she seemed: behind her head two wings As of some mighty phantom butterfly Glimmered with jewel-sparks in the gold gloom. Her small, pure, grey-eyed face above her ruff Was chiselled like an agate; and he knew It was the Queen. Low bent he o'er her hand; And "Ah," she said, "Sir Francis Walsingham Hath told me what an English heart beats here! Know you what injuries the King of Spain Hath done us?" Drake looked up at her: she smiled, "We find you apt! Will you not be our knight For we are helpless"—witchingly she smiled— "We are not ripe for war; our policy Must still be to uphold the velvet cloak Of peace; but I would have it mask the hand That holds the dagger! Will you not unfold Your scheme to us?" And then with a low bow Walsingham, at a signal from the Queen, Withdrew; and she looked down at Drake and smiled; And in his great simplicity the man Spake all his heart out like some youthful knight Before his Gloriana: his heart burned, Knowing he talked with England, face to face; And suddenly the Queen bent down to him, England bent down to him, and his heart reeled With the beauty of her presence—for indeed Women alone have royal power like this Within their very selves enthroned and shrined To draw men's hearts out! Royal she bent down And touched his hand for a moment. "Friend," she said, Looking into his face with subtle eyes, "I have searched thy soul to-night and know full well How I can trust thee! Canst thou think that I, The daughter of my royal father, lack The fire which every boor in England feels Burning within him as the bloody score Which Spain writes on the flesh of Englishmen Mounts higher day by day? Am I not Tudor? I am not deaf or blind; nor yet a king! I am a woman and a queen, and where Kings would have plunged into their red revenge Or set their throne up on this temporal shore, As flatterers bade that wiser king Canute, Thence to command the advancing tides of battle Till one ensanguined sea whelm throne and king And kingdom, friend, I take my woman's way, Smile in mine enemies' faces with a heart All hell, and undermine them hour by hour! This island scarce can fend herself from France, And now Spain holds the keys of all the world, How should we fight her, save that my poor wit Hath won the key to Philip? Oh, I know His treacherous lecherous heart, and hour by hour My nets are drawing round him. I, that starve My public armies, feed his private foes, Nourish his rebels in the Netherlands, Nay, sacrifice mine own poor woman's heart To keep him mine, and surely now stands Fate With hand uplifted by the doors of Spain Ready to knock: the time is close at hand When I shall strike, once, and no second stroke. Remember, friend, though kings have fought for her, This England, with the trident in her grasp, Was ever woman; and she waits her throne; And thou canst speed it. Furnish thee with ships, Gather thy gentleman adventurers, And be assured thy parsimonious queen— Oh ay, she knows that chattering of the world— Will find thee wealth enough. Then put to sea, Fly the black flag of piracy awhile Against these blackest foes of all mankind. Nay; what hast thou to do with piracy? Hostis humani generis indeed Is Spain: she dwells beyond the bounds of law; Thine is no piracy, whate'er men say, Thou art a knight on Gloriana's quest. Oh, lay that golden unction to thy soul, This is no piracy, but glorious war, Waged for thy country and for all mankind, Therefore put out to sea without one fear, Ransack their El Dorados of the West, Pillage their golden galleons, sap their strength Even at its utmost fountains; let them know That there is blood, not water, in our veins. Sail on, my captain, to the glorious end, And, though at first thou needs must sail alone And undefended, ere that end be reached, When I shall give the word, nay, but one word, All England shall be up and after thee, The sword of England shall shine over thee, And round about thee like a guardian fire; All the great soul of England shall be there; Her mighty dead shall at that cry of doom Rise from their graves and in God's panoply Plunge with our standards through immortal storms When Drake rides out across the wreck of Rome. As yet we must be cautious; let no breath Escape thee, save to thy most trusted friends; For now, if my lord Burleigh heard one word Of all thou hast in mind, he is so much The friend of caution and the beaten road, He would not rest till he had spilled thy hopes And sealed thy doom! Go now, fit out thy ships. Walsingham is empowered to give thee gold Immediately, but look to him for more As thou shalt need it, gold and gold to spare, My golden-hearted pilot to the shores Of victory—so farewell;" and through the gloom She vanished as she came; and Drake groped, dazed, Out through the doors, and found great Walsingham Awaiting him with gold. But in the room Where Drake had held his converse with the Queen The embroidered arras moved, and a lean face, White with its long eavesdropping upon death, Crept out and peered as a venomous adder peers From out dark ferns, then as the reptile flashes Along a path between two banks of flowers Almost too swift for sight, a stealthy form —One of the fifty spies whom Burleigh paid— Passed down the gold-gloomed corridor to seek His master, whom among great books he found, Calm, like a mountain brooding o'er the sea. Nor did he break that calm for all these winds Of rumour that now burst from out the sky. His brow bent like a cliff over his thoughts, And the spy watched him half resentfully, Thinking his news well worth a blacker frown. At last the statesman smiled and answered, "Go; Fetch Thomas Doughty, Leicester's secretary."
Few suns had risen and set ere Francis Drake Had furnished forth his ships with guns and men, Tried seamen that he knew in storms of old,— Will Harvest, who could haul the ropes and fight All day, and sing a foc'sle song to cheer Sea-weary hearts at night; brave old Tom Moone The carpenter, whose faithful soul looked up To Drake's large mastery with a mastiff's eyes; And three-score trusty mariners, all scarred And weather-beaten. After these there came Some two-score gentleman adventurers, Gay college lads or lawyers that had grown Sick of the dusty Temple, and were fired With tales of the rich Indies and those tall Enchanted galleons drifting through the West, Laden with ingots and broad bars of gold. Already some had bought at a great price Green birds of Guatemala, which they wore On their slouched hats, tasting the high romance And new-found colours of the world like wine. By night they gathered in a marvellous inn Beside the black and secret flowing Thames; And joyously they tossed the magic phrase "Pieces of eight" from mouth to mouth, and laughed And held the red wine up, night after night, Around their tables, toasting Francis Drake. Among these came a courtier, and none knew Or asked by whose approval, for each thought Some other brought him; yet he made his way Cautiously, being a man with a smooth tongue, The secretary of Leicester; and his name Was Thomas Doughty. Most of all with Drake He won his way to friendship, till at last There seemed one heart between them and one soul.
So on a misty grey December morn Five ships put out from calm old Plymouth Sound; Five little ships, the largest not so large As many a coasting yacht or fishing-trawl To-day; yet these must brave uncharted seas Of unimagined terrors, haunted glooms, And shadowy horrors of an unknown world Wild as primeval chaos. In the first, The Golden Hynde, a ship of eighteen guns, Drake sailed: John Wynter, a queen's captain, next Brought out the Elizabeth, a stout new ship Of sixteen guns. The pinnace Christopher Came next, in staunch command of old Tom Moone Who, five years back, with reeking powder grimed, Off Cartagena fought against the stars All night, and, as the sun arose in blood, Knee-deep in blood and brine, stood in the dark Perilous hold and scuttled his own ship The Swan, bidding her down to God's great deep Rather than yield her up a prize to Spain. Lastly two gentleman-adventurers Brought out the new Swan and the Marygold. Their crews, all told, were eight score men and boys. Not only terrors of the deep they braved, Bodiless witchcrafts of the black abyss, Red gaping mouths of hell and gulfs of fire That yawned for all who passed the tropic line; But death lurked round them from their setting forth. Mendoza, plenipotentiary of Spain, By spies informed, had swiftly warned his king, Who sent out mandates through his huge empire From Gaudalchiber to the golden West For the instant sinking of all English ships And the instant execution of their crews Who durst appear in the Caribbean sea. Moreover, in the pith of their emprise A peril lurked—Burleigh's emissaries, The smooth-tongued Thomas Doughty, who had brought His brother—unacquitted of that charge Of poisoning, raised against him by the friends Of Essex, but in luckless time released Lately for lack of proof, on no strong plea. These two wound through them like two snakes at ease In Eden, waiting for their venomous hour. Especially did Thomas Doughty toil With soft and flowery tongue to win his way; And Drake, whose rich imagination craved For something more than simple seaman's talk, Was marvellously drawn to this new friend Who with the scholar's mind, the courtier's gloss, The lawyer's wit, the adventurer's romance, Gold honey from the blooms of Euphues, Rare flashes from the Mermaid and sweet smiles Copied from Sidney's self, even to the glance Of sudden, liquid sympathy, gave Drake That banquet of the soul he ne'er had known Nor needed till he knew, but needed now. So to the light of Doughty's answering eyes He poured his inmost thoughts out, hour by hour; And Doughty coiled up in the heart of Drake.
Against such odds the tiny fleet set sail; Yet gallantly and with heroic pride, Escutcheoned pavisades, emblazoned poops, Banners and painted shields and close-fights hung With scarlet broideries. Every polished gun Grinned through the jaws of some heraldic beast, Gilded and carven and gleaming with all hues; While in the cabin of the Golden Hynde Rich perfumes floated, given by the great Queen Herself to Drake as Captain-General; So that it seemed her soul was with the fleet, A presence to remind him, far away, Of how he talked with England, face to face,— No pirate he, but Gloriana's knight. Silver and gold his table furniture, Engraved and richly chased, lavishly gleamed While, fanned by favouring airs, the ships advanced With streaming flags and ensigns and sweet chords Of music struck by skilled musicians Whom Drake brought with him, not from vanity, But knowing how the pulse of men beats high To music; and the hearts of men like these Were open to the high romance of earth, And they that dwelt so near God's mystery Were proud of their own manhood. They went out To danger, as to a sweetheart, far away.
Light as the sea-birds dipping their white wings In foam before the gently heaving prows Each heart beat, while the low soft lapping splash Of water racing past them ripped and tore Whiter and faster, and the bellying sails Filled out, and the chalk cliffs of England sank Dwindling behind the broad grey plains of sea. Meekly content and tamely stay-at-home The sea-birds seemed that piped across the waves; And Drake, be-mused, leaned smiling to his friend Doughty and said, "Is it not strange to know When we return yon speckled herring-gulls Will still be wheeling, dipping, flashing there? We shall not find a fairer land afar Than those thyme-scented hills we leave behind! Soon the young lambs will bleat across the combes, And breezes will bring puffs of hawthorn scent Down Devon lanes; over the purple moors Lavrocks will carol; and on the village greens Around the May-pole, while the moon hangs low, The boys and girls of England merrily swing In country footing through the morrice dance. But many of us indeed shall not return." Then the other with a laugh, "Nay, like the man Who slept a hundred years we shall return And find our England strange: there are great storms Brewing; God only knows what we shall find— Perchance a Spanish king upon the throne! What then?" And Drake, "I should put down my helm, And out once more to the unknown golden West To die, as I have lived, in a free land." So said he, while the white cliffs dwindled down, Faded, and vanished; but the prosperous wind Carried the five ships onward over the swell Of swinging, sweeping seas, till the sun sank, And height o'er height the chaos of the skies Broke out into the miracle of the stars. Frostily glittering, all the Milky Way Lay bare like diamond-dust upon the robe Of some great king. Orion and the Plough Glimmered through drifting gulfs of silver fleece, And, far away, in Italy, that night Young Galileo, looking upward, heard The self-same whisper through that wild abyss Which now called Drake out to the unknown West. But, after supper, Drake came up on deck With Doughty, and on the cold poop as they leaned And gazed across the rolling gleam and gloom Of mighty muffled seas, began to give Voices to those lovely captives of the brain Which, like princesses in some forest-tower, Still yearn for the delivering prince, the sweet Far bugle-note that calls from answering minds. He told him how, in those dark days which now Seemed like an evil dream, when the Princess Elizabeth even trembled for her life And read there, by the gleam of Smithfield fires, Those cunning lessons of diplomacy Which saved her then and now for England's sake, He passed his youth. 'Twas when the power of Spain Began to light the gloom, with that great glare Of martyrdom which, while the stars endure, Bears witness how men overcame the world, Trod the red flames beneath their feet like flowers, And cast aside the blackening robe of flesh, While with a crown of joy upon their heads, Even as into a palace, they passed through The portals of the tomb to prove their love Stronger at least than death: and, in those days A Puritan, with iron in his soul, Having in earlier manhood occupied His business in great waters and beheld The bloody cowls of the Inquisition pass Before the midnight moon as he kept watch; And having then forsworn the steely sea To dwell at home in England with his love At Tavistock in Devon, Edmund Drake Began, albeit too near the Abbey walls, To speak too staunchly for his ancient faith; And with his young child Francis, had to flee By night at last for shelter to the coast. Little the boy remembered of that flight, Pillioned behind his father, save the clang And clatter of the hoofs on stony ground Striking a sharp blue fire, while country tales Of highwaymen kindled his reckless heart As the great steed went shouldering through the night. There Francis, laying a little sunburnt hand On the big bolstered pistol at each side, Dreamed with his wide grey eyes that he himself Was riding out on some freebooting quest, And felt himself heroic. League by league The magic world rolled past him as they rode, Leaving him nothing but a memory Of his own making. Vaguely he perceived A thousand meadows darkly streaming by With clouds of perfume from their secret flowers, A wayside cottage-window pointing out A golden finger o'er the purple road; A puff of garden roses or a waft Of honeysuckle blown along a wood, While overhead that silver ship, the moon, Sailed slowly down the gulfs of glittering stars, Till, at the last, a buffet of fresh wind Fierce with sharp savours of the stinging brine Against his dreaming face brought up a roar Of mystic welcome from the Channel seas. And there Drake paused for a moment, as a song Stole o'er the waters from the Marygold Where some musician, striking luscious chords Of sweet-stringed music, freed his heart's desire In symbols of the moment, which the rest, And Doughty among them, scarce could understand.
The moon is up: the stars are bright: The wind is fresh and free! We're out to seek for gold to-night Across the silver sea! The world was growing grey and old; Break out the sails again! We're out to seek a Realm of Gold Beyond the Spanish Main.